Meet Augie: Dartmouth High's new therapy dog

Jan 29, 2021

There’s a new staff member patrolling the halls of Dartmouth High.

While he might be a bit young — and have four legs and a tail — Augie the therapy dog is already making quite the impression with his fellow coworkers.

“Who doesn’t love a puppy? Especially one that’s so sweet and happy,” Administrative Assistant Donna Flor said. “It just makes you feel good.” 

Assistant Principal Richard Gill and Principal Ross Thibault are credited with bringing the 18-month-old cockapoo to Dartmouth High. The two got the idea a few years ago when working at a previous school, but, according to Thibault, acquiring a therapy dog was “cost-prohibitive.”

The idea came back as the pandemic picked up, with Thibault noting that students have “struggled in terms of social and emotional wellness.”

Then, last spring, Gill got a call from his sister in Connecticut. After hearing the original owners could not keep Augie, she told the assistant principal that he just had to adopt “the best dog in the entire world.” 

“He’s pretty good, that’s for sure,” Gill said. “He never bites — even when I’m intentionally annoying him, he just turns his head.”

Almost immediately, Gill sensed Augie’s ability to become a therapy dog based on his friendly and calm temper. From there, the assistant principal took Augie to get trained through the American Kennel Club therapy dog program.

Throughout the summer, Augie learned to keep calm around other dogs, get passed off to strangers without getting stressed out, and limiting his jumpiness.

With his certification complete, Augie is now ready to get to work helping staff and students feel a little more calm during these uncertain times.

“Although he does still have some of that puppy energy,” Gill laughed.

The next step, Thibault said, is for Augie to work alongside the school’s social worker Cathy Thomas on select days to visit to begin interacting with students upon their return to in person instruction in February.

“What better way to welcome students back than to have our therapy dog on hand?” the principal asked.